Since 2008, Darkode has been “the most sophisticated English-speaking forum for computer hackers in the world.” Members were involved via ‘invitation-only’ and ‘password-protected’ and each member was vetted carefully before being accepted. The FBI has had an undercover operation to infiltrate the platform “at the highest levels”, and it took two years to accomplish the feat. Entitled “Operation Shrouded Horizon”, the joint venture involved law enforcement agencies in almost twenty countries.
In an FBI statement, they indicated “Once in the forum, members — in addition to buying and selling criminal cyber products and services — used it to exchange ideas, knowledge and advice on any number of cyber related fraud schemes and other illegal activities….It was almost like a think tank for cybercriminals.”
Mark F. Giuliano, FBI Deputy Director released the statement, “This is a milestone in our efforts to shut down criminals’ ability to buy, sell and trade malware, botnets and personally identifiable information used to steal from US citizens and individuals around the world…We have dismantled a cyber-hornets’ nest of criminal hackers, which was believed by many, including the hackers themselves, to be impenetrable.’
The shutdown of the online forum involving the “Darkode” servers and domain also involved indictment of seventy people directly involved with the forum along with its alleged administration. Twelve of the individuals have been turned over to the U.S. and other officials.
In the last few years the awareness level of this type of shadowed side has escalated, mainly due to the spotlight that was thrown on the ‘Dark Web” in the arrest and conviction of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of ‘Silk Road’. The location was a center focal point for the meeting of the minds of all types of cyber criminals where they could anonymously conduct clandestine activities from hacking all the way to illegal drug activities. The additional ‘red flag alerts’ have come into play due to the security breaches that have occurred in organizations and businesses such as JP Morgan, Home Depot, and Anthem (health insurer). The successful cyber hacking of these companies escalated the priority so that the CIA placed the online realm as the core of its mission.
The takedown of ‘Darkode’ was characterised by the FBI as “the largest-ever coordinated law enforcement effort directed at an online cybercriminal forum.” The DOJ indicated that the most notable of those indicted is the forum’s administrator, Sweden’s Johan Anders Gudmunds. Accusations against Gudminds also includes the infection of over 50,000 computers with malicious software that allowed the stealing of data from those machines in nearing 200 million times. Gudmunds was sentenced to life imprisonment. Another individual that has been charged allegedly developed and offered for sale a type of software that could control and steal information and data from smartphones that were running the Google Android mobile operating system as well as one individual that allegedly assisted in the efforts to infect the computer of Facebook users’ and make use of them to send out spam messages.
Da Vinci Forensics offers a service where we monitor the Dark Web. where many of your company’s most valuable assets are at risk to criminal activities carried out on the Dark Web – and you don’t even know it. Turning a blind eye to this will impact your:
- Brand and reputation
- Customer loyalty
- Intellectual Property
- Legal defenses
- IT baselines
- Cybersecurity strategy
- And much more!
Da Vinci Forensics removes this blind spot in your cyber threat intelligence program by providing you with personalised cyber risk intelligence from Dark Web and other related sources
Sharon Knowles, CEO of Da Vinci Forensics says:
As cybercrime continues to escalate, the loss of personal and business information has increased to an almost incalculable measure. Official organizations around the globe are working diligently to stop the criminals, and it emphasises the requirements of each business and individual to be observant and responsible. Da Vinci Forensics assists companies in maintaining the highest security priorities to keep their proprietary information safe.”